For most who make the annual pilgrimage to the Royal Melbourne Show, it’s an adrenalin-filled atmosphere full of noise, colour, screaming, fairy floss and showbags. People everywhere, offers of everything from blow-up hammers to mattresses designed by nuclear physicists; it’s all go, go, go.
Over in the RACV pavilion, however, its been all stop, yawn, lie down. Even with the cacophony of noise there’s one group of showstoppers who are just not having it. Once again, the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) is providing a haven of tranquillity amongst the frantic.
For each day during the show, GAP volunteers and staff are providing an opportunity to meet and greet former racing greyhounds who have embraced retirement in loving homes.
Even today’s addition of an award-winning star of stage and screen and a Melbourne radio and television identity couldn’t steal the spotlight. National GAP ambassador Todd McKenney and state ambassador Kate Stevenson, from 3AW, were second billing to the greyhounds.
Both are long-term greyhound lovers. Todd, famously, has two; Nancy Hayes and Joey. Like many people, he was surprised by the breed. “They are cuddly, soulful and low maintenance. I was really surprised; they’re lovely-hearted dogs.”
The star of The Boy from Oz, Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Ballroom is clearly enthusiastic. “I’m delighted to be involved in getting the word out there about how amazing they are. I feel like I’m part of a movement, and proud to be part of it.”
Kate Stevenson is an integral part of one of the highest rating radio programs in Australia, 3AW breakfast, and co-hosts ‘A Moveable Feast’ with Ross Stevenson (no relation). Kate has been fostering greyhounds for years. “It works for me. I’m extremely busy and travel quite a bit so I can’t have a dog full-time, but I adore them.”
“I love seeing them go through everything being a pet entails. They might have just come from kennels and need to experience things like hard floors, TVs, people. It’s great to see them go on and get a home and lead amazing lives.”
Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Acting Chair, Peita Duncan said GAP couldn’t ask for two better ambassadors. “It’s a genuine interest they have in these placid dogs. It’s fantastic to have people so passionate.”
“The show is a brilliant chance to dispel the myth that these are vicious dogs that need a lot of exercise. The best thing you could ever do is get yourself a greyhound.”
Literally thousands of people will greet the various greyhounds over the 11 days of the show; many meeting the breed for the first time, and hopefully adding greyhounds to the list of future-pet options.
The GAP stand is this year in the RACV pavilion, near gate one.
By Phil Weir. Photos by Clint Anderson.